Guns kill people

Killing - Text on Red Puzzles.

Yes they do. Guns are the only product sold to consumers that are not regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They are also in a unique category called deadly weapons that mostly includes guns and certain types of knives. Guns are designed to inflict harm and kill people ( or animals in the case of hunting). I write this often on my blog. When I post actual articles about “accidental” discharges or incidents involving so called “law abiding” gun owners I get the usual remarks from gun rights folks. They agree that these incidents are irresponsible and careless.

Maybe they shouldn’t have had a gun? No, that is usually not mentioned because the goal of the gun lobby and gun rights extremists is for just about anyone to have guns and have them just about anywhere. And so that is the push- selling guns to as many people as possible without apparent regard to whether that person knows even the tiniest thing about a gun before walking away with one.

I am going to digress for a second here because today is the anniversary of the Columbine shooting. I wrote about April anniversaries in my last post. The Columbine shooting was the one that we saw endless video of through media outlets. Who can forget the images of teens walking out of a school building with their hands up or running in some cases or trying to get out of the windows of the building to safety? And images of the memorials and the aftermath of our country’s in a series of heinous school shootings.This was a visual reminder that indeed, guns do kill people. Here is a disturbing video from surveillance cameras in the Columbine High School cafeteria before, during and after the shooting took place. That day, guns killed 13 and injured many others and left an indelible imprint on the American psyche.

When it’s real people and we see it live or almost in real time, it’s different than watching people get shot on TV shows or movies and now, videos and video games. But truth is stranger and more real than fiction. States United to Prevent Gun Violence produced a film about the effect of real shootings called “Gun Crazy“. Watch as film goers sit in the theater with popcorn seeing real shootings rather than a violent movie. When it’s real, it’s too much. When real people have to see the real bodies of a child or a loved one who has been shot and killed by bullets, it’s  unforgettable. Nothing is ever the same.

Yes. Disturbing. We are gun crazy.

Back to guns killing people, why do people buy and own guns and who are they? Some are gun collectors. I know a few of those folks and they are nice people whose passion happens to be collecting guns- some older antique guns, some modern guns. You can really only use one at a time but if you like to handle he guns, work on them, look at them, admire them, take them to the gun range and shoot them or take them hunting, that is one thing. Some are hunters and that is the only reason they own guns. My family falls into that category. Some buy guns for target shooting and sport. And some buy guns for self defense. Still others buy many guns just in case they need them to fight against their own government. And, as it turns out, many of these people support common sense gun laws.

And unfortunately, some buy guns to kill someone they know and even love and that is the only reason they buy or access a gun. Such was the tragic case of a Minnesota man who went out and bought a gun so he could shoot his family and himself in a murder/suicide. He bought that gun one day before the shooting knowing what he was going to do. Without that gun, he must have thought he could not have accomplished this awful thing.

Can we stop incidents like this? Not all of them of course. But we do live in a country abundant with guns at the ready for anyone who wants to shoot someone or his/herself. Some people know exactly what they are going to do with a gun. Others are just careless or irresponsible as has been mentioned. But whatever else we say or don’t say or intimate or excuse, we must say the truth. Guns are dangerous and can kill or otherwise harm someone known to the owner whether or not they intend it.

So when I read this article, it resonated with me. I particularly liked the title: “Guns are designed to kill so why are we shocked when they do?” From the article:

In our national mythology, guns are symbols of liberty and autonomy, self-determination and control. When they harm us and there is no obvious person to blame, we want to believe they only do so “somehow.” Such linguistic tics subtly attribute gun failure and misuse to forces beyond our control, which is more comforting than admitting they are born of the choices we make.

The article ends this way:

Gun accidents happen because we live in close proximity to machines designed to kill; they eventually will do what they were made to do, though perhaps not at a time our choosing. Whenever this happens, the true culprit is obvious: A culture that refuses to learn the lessons of its past.

At a time of our choosing is an important phrase. Some shootings are actually accomplished at times the shooter has chosen and even thought about ahead of time. Many are not. Many are spur of the moment shootings that happen in an instant of anger or in the muddled thinking of depression or having too much alcohol or mishandling a gun or just leaving it sitting somewhere where it can be used at a time not chosen to kill or injure someone. That’s how it is with guns. They kill people. One killed my sister. Or I should say the bullets from that gun- 3 of them- caused internal injuries that killed her almost instantly. The person with that gun that day was angry over a contentious divorce. We don’t know what prompted it since there was not a trial where we could hear from him in his own words why he picked up a gun that day and shot two people. We don’t know if he met them at his door with his gun when they came to deliver some papers and got them inside the house. He killed himself 3 months after the shooting. What we do know is that he shot and killed two people while angry and depressed. Without that gun accessible, two people would not have died that day almost 23 years ago.

A woman once asked me why I didn’t think they ( my sister and her friend) could have been killed as easily with a knife. Maybe she was thinking of the now famous case where O.J. Simpson was on trial for killing his ex-wife and another man with a knife. He was not found guilty as we know but someone killed those two people and we are not sure how it was managed. Most knives are not really designed to kill people but they do kill. At a much lower rate than guns in spite of the nonsensical arguments that come from the other side about that. There have been “mass knifings” which have most often injured the people who were attacked but not killed them. One such happened in China on the same day as the Sandy Hook shooting that killed 26 innocent people. In China, 23 were injured and none killed.

And the answer is “no” to the woman who asked me, by the way. My now deceased brother-in-law was able to threaten and intimidate two people with a gun because it’s hard to run away from someone with a gun. A gun can be shot from close up or far away. Bullets have long trajectories. That is why they are so effective.

I’m writing and talking about common sense solutions to our gun violence epidemic. One of the things that has to be talked about is the risk of guns to their owners and others in the vicinity. I have asked whether guns are accessible when I hear of someone in a contentious divorce or domestic situation. At least some of our leaders recognize that domestic abusers certain should not have guns. In Minnesota and a handful of other states recent laws were passed to allow law enforcement to take guns away from domestic abusers who have exhibited behaviors that resulted in a restraining order and/or order for protection. Even the gun friendly legislators supported these laws and came together to make women and children safer from those who should not have guns. Hopefully that is a realization that guns can be a risk and can become deadly quickly in domestic disputes.

There are many ways we can deal with our gun violence epidemic if we treat it as the public health problem that it is. Passing laws requiring background checks on all gun sales is one. Requiring and encouraging safe storage of guns. Stopping bad apple gun dealers and stopping gun trafficking is another. Education about the risks of guns, of course, would help. Asking if there are unsecured loaded guns in the homes where your children play. Suicide awareness programs recognizing that access to guns can result in a senseless avoidable death. And this is not just about the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program which was the subject of a recent segment of Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal show.

I hope you will join me in supporting solutions that will stop the proliferation of guns in our communities and the devastating gun violence that is taking too many lives.


20 thoughts on “Guns kill people

  1. j. Edwards says:

    This is interesting. Yesterday, I purchased a new handgun from the German manufacture Heckler & Koch but looking in the manual it does not list “killing people” as a designed use. However it does list the following: Sport/competition shooting, personal defense, law enforcement/military use.
    For the law enforcement professional and private citizen alike, the objective of lawfully applied deadly force is to prevent grave bodily harm or death from befalling yourself or another innocent from an unlawful felonious assault. Again, the objective is not to kill your attacker but rather to stop the assault with whatever means available.

    When someone decides to misuse a firearm, either through negligence, lack of training or criminal intent, that is the fault of that “someone”; not the gun, the manufacture or the NRA.

    As I constantly remind my children,”Only you are responsible for your actions”.

    1. If guns were treated as the public health epidemic they are, they would be required to include warnings in the box or with the gun when sold. It would be similar to what is now required by law to be on cigarette packages- Once we started realizing the extent to which cigarettes affected the health of smokers, and the law suits started, the law required this change. Guns are treated differently and they shouldn’t be considering the number of deaths and injuries caused by them every day. People are also responsible for whether or not they smoke or wear their seat belts but there are consequences if they ignore the warnings or the laws that require compliance. Some doesn’t always “decide” to misuse a firearm. If they leave it out for a child, that is negligence but did they decide to do that of their own volition or is carelessness or being cavalier with the gun because they have not been adequately trained or warned about the risks. It is the person but it’s the gun itself that is the weapon that kills. A gun in the hands of just about anyone can kill in an instant.

    1. Actually yes. It would make people think harder about what they just bought. And training before walking out of the store with a gun. Sort of like making sure people know how to actually drive and operate a vehicle before they are out on the road driving.

  2. I would argue that the number of people who’s behavior would be affected by a warning sticker…is low. But I do agree with mandatory basic firearms training, provided free of charge by local law enforcement.

    1. Even low might save a life. Nice that we can agree on something. What if the training was provided by someone in the gun shop or at a gun range? Or maybe the NRA? It might cost too much for L.E. to do the training and they are already dealing with short staffed departments and lots of other issues. Do you have an idea about this?

      1. One last point about warning stickers, every new firearm that I’ve seen, is sold with a safety sheet in the box [along with trigger lock], that is separate from the safety instructions in the manual. Not realistically different than a warning sticker in my view.

        As for training, the first hurdle is identifying a basic standard. Any gun store will give a new or prospective buyer a countertop class on basic handling and safety. The NRA does provide the most firearm safety training nationwide, and sometimes it’s provided gratis…..but other times for a fee. The simplest method to administer a legal training requirement, in my opinion, is to manage it via law enforcement agencies. But I’m certainly not opposed to having this requirement fulfilled by an accredited civilian firearm safety entity. Often, these folks spend far, far more time handling and shooting firearms than LEOs, to the extent that LE agencies outsource much of the training, rather than paying the overhead to conduct it in-house.

        LE trainers need not be sworn officers, in fact many LE instructors and range officers are not…..but the bottom line is that if this were a regulatory requirement, it should not be at the citizens expense….or it will be no different than a poll tax….a tax to exercise one’s Constitutional right. Respectfully, I think that is a key missing component in your positions, when asking why X cannot be done or enforced.

      2. Hmmm. Some things to think about. Do you think having to pay for driver’s education training is a problem? Or for professionals having to pay to get their training before getting a license to practice law, medicine, accounting, teaching, etc.? Just trying to think about why you believe it would be a poll tax to require people to pay for training? But I was thinking of something done at a gun store before people walk out with a gun. Or a mandatory class of some kind taken at a gun range or a store. People have to pay for their training to get their license to carry. Why not to buy a gun?

  3. The liberty to keep and bear arms is a pre-existing right protected, not granted, by the Constitution. Paying a fee or sales tax, on the material implement of a Constitutional right….is not in conflict with that right. For example….Much like having to buy a printing press or a computer does not restrict your right to free speech. Having to pay a tax/fee for the ability to speak freely via those mediums, however…would be.

    Practicing a specific trade or more especially, driving a motor vehicle on the public roadways, is not an enumerated right of the People. Though I personally believe that most regulatory practices are repressive revenue generators [licensing to cut dead flowers or style hair/nails??], these are not outside the scope of the State.

    The fee and accompanying sales tax on a firearm or accessories, is not an infringement upon the right, as the existence of the right is not dependent on whether or not you choose to exercise it…you still maintain it…much like you have the right to vote, whether you do or not….and if you do, you aren’t required to pay a fee for exercising it.

    Concealed carry is a trickier legal issue, as evidenced by the courts, but the requirements to carry vary by state [my proof of military service suffices, therefore I have no cost for training]. I would be more than happy to have all firearms owners vetted for criminal background [with an appeal for restoration process] and mental health records…but it needs to be uniformly enforceable and not a burden to the citizen, in order to exercise the 2nd Amendment.

    1. Pre-existing to what? This is where you and I will have to part ways and disagree. Your statement here makes no sense whatsoever. We also have a right to live and be free of gun violence. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has been taken from those who have been shot by guns obtained by people who shouldn’t have them or by suicide or by an “accidental” shooting by a toddler whose parents’ rights to own guns without the responsibility that goes with rights.

  4. To the contrary; the rights enumerated as being ‘of the People’, have been recognized since the founding, as pre-existing to the Constitution…not granted by the State. There is no Constitutional argument in academic or political circles that dispute this. A supposed right to “live free of gun violence” is a popular notion for sure, but a notion not specifically codified in any Constitution federal or State; you have a right to life, which is redressed only by the penalties applied to a perpetrator who threatens, harms or takes a life. You have to right to live, but you cannot have a right to be free of the actions of another citizen… it is not within the power of the State to regulate a citizens behavior before it occurs.

      1. The facts of the Constitution and it’s enumerated rights, are at your fingertips, if they weren’t taught in your school system [which it seems they ever increasingly are not]. The 2nd Amendment is at the core of any gun control argument. A dismissal of this would explain why gun control is losing at the federal, state and judiciary level.

      2. You might want to read some things that counter your interpretation. It is not supported by the facts. “Now to the casual observer and maybe an amateur historian this may resemble the Second Amendment. Nothing could be further from the truth. This Declaration was not about granting or creating individual rights or recognizing “natural” rights. Nor was it addressing a right of people to keep and bear arms. The Declaration was reestablishing Parliamentary authority that had been usurped by the King. Hence the reference to Protestants; the king had disarmed Protestants without the consent of Parliament. Note: the problem wasn’t that he disarmed Protestants, the problem is he disarmed them without Parliament’s consent. This clause is in the Declaration is not recognizing Protestant or “The People’s” rights of any kind, its establishing Parliaments right to decide who can be “armed”. This is a declaration that Parliament, not the King, has the right to decide who can and cannot have guns. Gun possession in England was restricted at the time and those restrictions remained in place after 1689. The Declaration confirms Parliament’s right to establish and enforce those restrictions.”

        And more- In case you don’t remember this- Justice Scalia made it clear in the 2008 Heller decision that reasonable gun laws are constitutional.
        “Un-enumerated rights are those not specifically or explicitly granted by the United States Constitution. We would all agree that such rights exist, but the scope and nature of such rights are not easy to define. For instance most of us would agree that regardless whether it’s in the Constitution or not, procreation, having children, is a basic human right. However in 1927 the Supreme Court ruled that “Three generations of imbeciles is enough” and upheld forced sterilization laws. I happen to agree that whether it’s in the constitution or not, we have a right to defend ourselves from personal assault. Unfortunately that right is difficult to spell out when you wade into the details. What’s an assault? What constitutes “defense”? When and how could we deploy lethal force? Does defense require possession of a gun, and if so what kind of gun? Certainly reasonable people could disagree whether it’s appropriate to require that homeowners confront armed intruders with little more than a baseball bat or a tazer. Nevertheless you turn down the avenue of un-enumerated rights at your own peril. The point is that NONE of this is addressed in the United States Constitution. The Second Amendment simply doesn’t discuss personal self-defense and all the Constitution says about un-enumerated rights is that they are reserved to the states, NOT the individual.”

        Courts have upheld gun laws in many states to be constitutional. If we can’t make gun laws because of some notion that gun rights are “enumerated” and pre-existing, we would be in serious trouble and operating in a lawless society.

  5. j. Edwards says:

    I’d like to address this quote from you ma’am: “I happen to agree that whether it’s in the constitution or not, we have a right to defend ourselves from personal assault. Unfortunately that right is difficult to spell out when you wade into the details. What’s an assault? What constitutes “defense”? When and how could we deploy lethal force? Does defense require possession of a gun, and if so what kind of gun? Certainly reasonable people could disagree whether it’s appropriate to require that homeowners confront armed intruders with little more than a baseball bat or a taser. Nevertheless you turn down the avenue of un-enumerated rights at your own peril.”

    If you’d like I could suggest some great material written by the author Massad Ayoob. His book, written over 20 years ago still passes the legal litmus test on when it is legal and appropriate to use leathal force in defense of yourself. The questions you stated above are things that most gun carriers want to know when they start really thinking about defending themselves.

    1. This is not a quote from me, sir. Massad Ayoob is a firearms instructor. I think we may come at this from a different perspective. And what exactly are unenumerated rights? Explain please.

    1. This is the quote you attributed to me in your comment, not the one you have there. ” “I happen to agree that whether it’s in the constitution or not, we have a right to defend ourselves from personal assault. Unfortunately that right is difficult to spell out when you wade into the details. What’s an assault? What constitutes “defense”? When and how could we deploy lethal force? Does defense require possession of a gun, and if so what kind of gun? Certainly reasonable people could disagree whether it’s appropriate to require that homeowners confront armed intruders with little more than a baseball bat or a taser. Nevertheless you turn down the avenue of un-enumerated rights at your own peril.””
      That is not a quote from me. You are confused apparently.

  6. j. Edwards says:

    I must be, as I’m literally reading it in your comment above. Was this a quote from someone else that you put in your comment?

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